New England Revolution

New England Revolution 2019 Season Preview by ASA Staff

The New England Revolution began a new era in 2018. Former coach and legendary Revs player Jay Heaps had pushed the team all the way to the MLS Cup Final in 2014, but the team hit a multi-year slide from then on, ending with his dismissal in 2017. Brad Friedel, former Premier League and USMNT goalkeeper, was hired to start fresh and instill a new culture in the club. Friedel’s squads were able to get lots of results early in the year, but New England had a miserable summer, netting two draws and six losses in July and August.

Friedel’s first season in charge brought plenty of off-field stories as well, and for much of the season, the players that weren’t playing generated as many headlines as those who did. But after a year of roster changes and an infusion of attackers, this is 100% Friedel’s team, and the Revolution will look to make a statement that their brand of soccer can make an impact in a league that’s become a bit more top heavy than just a few years ago.

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Pressing, Defensive Lines, and What Defensive Actions Correlate with Goals by Cheuk Hei Ho

How do you analytically measure a high defensive line and defensive pressing (see StatsBomb pressing index and Jamon's piece from a couple weeks ago)? Do we have enough data and information to analyze this behavior? If we do, how do these tactics impact the performance of a team?

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Where the Ball Was Won: Using Passing Data as an Indicator of Defensive Pressure Points by Jamon Moore

I’m a die-hard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Please don’t leave yet. In case you aren’t paying attention to MLS much this year, the Quakes have been…underperforming, even by their less-than-lofty standards. I was preparing data for an article about the Quakes troubles with defending the opposition Zone 14 (or are you #TeamZone5?) discussing why they have given up a league-high 6 goals there so far this season, when – you may be aware – Matt Doyle (@MattDoyle76) and Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) publicly blasted the Quakes for the very same issue back on May 27.

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New England Revolution 2018 Season Preview by Ian L.

Before I get started I feel that I need to disclose two very important things for the sake of transparency. The first is that at the time of my writing, the Lee Nguyen situation has not resolved itself, and that’s obviously going to be a huge factor in whatever happens with New England in the forthcoming campaign. The second thing is that while I know it’s incredibly unlikely, I’m wishing with all of my heart and soul that somehow Lee Nguyen winds up at Roma or Torino for no other reason than I could then write something with the headline “Nguyen in Rome”.  Now that you know my qualifications, let’s begin. 

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MLS' Imbalanced Schedule: Talkin' Bout The Revolution by Jacob Beckett

One of the most common complaints about MLS is the lack of a balanced schedule. In many of the biggest leagues around the world, every team plays the same schedule. For a twenty-team league, a home-and-home against every team in the league yields 38 games where every team’s record can be easily compared to the rest of the league.

Given the vast geography covered by Major League Soccer, as well as the conference structure, MLS teams don’t all play the same schedule. Here’s the nitty-gritty on how this all worked for 2017: every team played 34 games. Those 34 games included one each against members of the opposite conference (unless you’re Minnesota or Atlanta – they played cross-conference matches against each other twice). Each team also plays everyone in their conference twice (once at home, once away), which makes up 20 games. Combined with the 11 out-of-conference matches we’re up to 31, leaving three additional games to be made up against some opponent (rivals often play three times) throughout the league.

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New England Revolution 2017 Season Preview by Coleman Larned

 It was a disappointing 2016 campaign for the New England Revolution, as they failed to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Starting slow out of the gates with one win in their first 11 games, the Revs' instability was found at both ends of the pitch.

The back line was consistently unsettled, which resulted in the interchanging of central and wide defenders out of their native positions. Conceding 54 GA (6th worst in MLS) out of a predicted 55.5 xGA (3rd worst in MLS) was a product of a constant search for a comfortable, defensive mixture. Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves and London Woodberry all took their turns at CB, with Kelyn Rowe even taking a stab at the RB position.

Offensively, coach Jay Heaps struggled to find the right combination within their talented pool. Three of the Revs' attackers were in the bottom 25 players of G-xG (Teal Bunbury -3.96, Kei Kamara -2.3 and Juan Agudelo -1.68) representing almost eight goals unrepresented on the pitch. Although these numbers might incrementally be negligible, amassed as a whole eight goals could propel a team into the playoffs. It's hard to say if that was just a bit of unluckiness, or if it was a product of Heaps' system for attack.

The streaks of poor performances defined last season for the Revs. Not only were they slow to start, but in a crucial run in the middle of the competition saw the club post a record of 2-2-8. Although Agudelo and Kamara started firing toward the end of the season, the hole was too deep to dig themselves out of.

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Life After Kamara: The Crew and Higuain by Harrison Crow

In case you missed the drama last week and are wondering why Kei Kamara was out on the pitch this weekend for New England, Columbus traded their sometimes enigmatic and always entertaining forward to the Revolution for a ransom of MLS financials, a couple draft picks, and an international roster spot. 

Regardless of why, Kamara is now gone from Columbus. The question now shifts to what becomes of the Crew and their immediate future. Kamara in his last post game appearance made a few awkward and pointed remarks. “I haven’t really had to depend on Pipa at all,” Kamara said. “How long have I been here? How many goals have I scored? How many have come from his assists? One, maybe two. I don’t depend on him. I depend on Ethan, I depend on my outside backs to pass me balls.”

This is partially true in terms of actual goal production, but it´s not the entire story. While Justin Meram, Ethan Finlay, Harrison Afful and Waylon Francis all accrued their share of assists last year, Kamara's chances have come primarily through a cross-happy approach. Utilizing the Sierra Leone native's elite skills at winning aerial duels in the attacking box, Kamara led MLS with the most aerial duels won (155) with an insane 56% success rate.

Pipa has been credited with only four assists (one being a secondary assist which we don't count in our records) on goals scored by Kamara. But he hasn't exactly been dormant during the Kei era either.

More on the Pipa to Kamara connection after the jump.

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2016 ASA PREVIEW: NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION by Sean Steffen

New England continues to thrive with a balanced attacking core which balances veterans with young talent.

Last year the Revs had an expected goal differential (xGD) of 0.11 but a GD of 0.03, which is why they finished lower in the table than many predicted. This was mainly to do with a shaky defense which unperformed their xGA by 0.16 goals a game.

This has a great deal to do with their attacking set-up with less emphasis on midfielders tracking back. New England's attacking posture continues to be most the most aggressive in the league, seeing more possession in the final third than any other team over the last two years. While such a style is fun to watch, it puts enormous amounts of pressure on their center midfielders to absorb pressure, which is partially why Jermaine Jones instantly transformed that team in 2014, providing both defensive cover, and a passing backstop which brought players back into the midfield more often to receive the ball. His importance to the team in 2015 was significantly less, however, and the addition of Gershon Koffie should help to bring back some of the magic of 2014.

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The Goals Sprayin’, With Or Without You: Jermaine Jones and The Problem With “Points Added” in Soccer by Tom Worville

Here’s the deal. Jermaine Jones is a 34 year old United States international midfielder, whose contract with the New England Revolution expired at the end of the 2015 season. He is suspended for six games in the 2016 MLS season after assaulting a referee (see below), a ban that carries over into any league he eventually moves to.

According to Jones, the Revolution have made him an offer for the 2016 season, but it’s “less than 20%” of his salary from last season - which was $3,052,500 (meaning the offer by the Revolution is  less than $600,000). For a 34 year old player who is only eligible for 28 to 34 games and has had a history of groin injuries recently - that’s still a lot of money.

So what’s the fuss all about? Well Jones posted the following picture on Instagram recently (that has since been removed):

 

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The Weekend Kick-off: Orlando City Are Good, New England Is (Probably) Better by Harrison Crow

by Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow)

I'm not sure that many of us knew what to make of Orlando City prior to this season. Sure, they spent some money and got some interesting talents but that doesn't always translate to something or even anything, ask Toronto.  But Kaka has turned out to be maybe the best player in Major League Soccer, Aurélien Collin is still a very good defender and it turns out that Kevin Molino (before ripping his ACL in half) was an above average MLS winger.

Right now, Orlando City looks like a potential playoff team. The big difference between them and, say, the LA Galaxy who are actually sitting in a playoff position is Orlando's horrible home record. Which is all kinds of crazy considering they're sitting second in home attendence with over 39,000.

You have to think that if they can unearth a striker--or maybe just borrow some of Phil Rawlings millions to buy one--who can take advantage of all the chances that Ricardo creates, Orlando may just be a formidable team come the end of this season. Also there is a chance that I might have "borrowed" bath salts from Rafael Ramos.

New England is picking right up where they left off last season. But this time they're doing it in a bit more sustainable fashion. Currently the Red, White and Blue are posting great expected goal numbers in both zero-gamestate situations and overall.

Lee Nguyen isn't overperforming his expected goal numbers astronomically like he did last season, but the Revs don't need him to do that this go-round. Kelyn Rowe is having a break out season, Chris Tierney stepping up to create goal scoring opportunities and Juan Agudelo (who is 3rd in expected goals) is everything they needed him to be last year to be when he went on his sabbatical to the Netherlands, driving a camper between Utrecht and various Scottish cities along the border of England with the hope some magic gate would open to... Stoke (I might have vomitted in my mouth a bit typing that).

New England has seen a once mighty generation come and go with little-to-nothing to show for it. This time around their window is open with the pieces needed to start to fill that trophy case that sits right next to the case of deflated balls that Tom Brady (the greatest of all time! I lost a bet. Don't ask.) has attempted to hide.

The real question is will they be able to keep their expected goals against so low? Don't misunderstand me; it's not as if we're really expecting regression with opposing clubs and their scoring rates. New England is still sitting in the middle of the pack, but considering how horrible they were last year (in the bottom third) and with losing perhaps their top defender... it's just a head-scratcher that they've improved in this manner. I'm going to chalk it up to Jay Heaps and his transition from the Just for Men to Just for Men Touch of Gray.

On a positive note, the team appears set to bring in local boy Will Packwood from Birmingham, England on a discovery claim (assuming they do have sole custody of his rights) which should help supplement a defense that at times has looked unsettled and needing some... well something better. Let's just see how this plays out, Cotton.

Prediction: I'm going with New England on the road with the win.

FANTASY PERSPECTIVE

ORLANDO CITY

Kaka (20.6% Selected, $11.4 Cost)

Ugh, the guy is the best player in the league. The best. Forget what he costs. Best. Player.

Rafael Ramos (12.2% Selected, $5.2 Cost)

So long as you're fine with the unmedicated outbursts that result in red cards from time to time burning your fantasy club to the ground, I'm sure you'll get along fine.

NEW ENGLAND

Bobby Shuttleworth (6.1% Selected, $5.6 Cost)
I think it's funny how much I get bent out of shape about the disparity between the cost of keepers and their points versus any other position. Most people look at Shuttleworth and think "5.6, WHOA, not made of money here" but really considering what any keeper provides versus their costs. There seems to be one right answer.

Lee Nguyen (4.7% Selected, $11.1 Cost)

He's still really good. Probably not $11 good. But good enough to where it might draw a few suckers.

THE WEEKEND MATCH-UPS

(expected goal differential in even game-states)

FRIDAY

New England Revolution (0.43) @ Orlando City SC (0.06)
Predictions: NE

San Jose Quakes (-0.05) @ Colorado Rapids (-0.30)
Predictions: Draw?

SATURDAY

Real Salt Lake (-0.35) @ Chicago Fire (-0.28)
Predictions: Draw??

Portland Timbers (0.12) @ Montreal Impact (-0.10)
Predictions: Draw???

Sporting KC (0.71) @ DC United (-0.46)
Predictions: SCREW YOU, DCU... I'm going with SKC

Philadelphia Union (-0.26) @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC (-0.06)
Predictions: VAN

Seattle Sounders FC (0.88) @ Columbus Crew SC (0.23)
Predictions: Draw

LA Galaxy (0.06) @ FC Dallas (0.14)
Predictions: FCD

SUNDAY

Houston Dynamo (-0.14) @ Toronto FC (0.13)
Predictions: TFC

New York City (-0.48) @ New York Red Bulls (0.11)
Predictions: NYRB

 

NERD IMAGERY

I've been saving this for weeks...it's all for you, Toronto.